• Humility
  • Vegas

I’m just filling in

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Even the fountains are performers in Vegas

I don’t really “get” Vegas. I understand that it’s popular for trade shows, which is why I am here. I am attending the KBIS show which is an industry-only trade show for the kitchen and bath and construction industries. This is the second year in a row for me to come to this show (with my boyfriend) and I just don’t get it. We don’t gamble. We don’t smoke. Fortunately, next year the show is in Orlando.

It shouldn’t be this hard to get a healthy breakfast. I ask the man behind the diner counter, “Do you use real eggs? If I order an egg over easy, it will be directly cracked out of a shell, right?”

The guy behind the counter says to me, “Hey, I’m just filling in.” [his eyes added, “So lay off, lady.”]

This phrase, “I’m just filling in”, when uttered by someone in the service industry, enables them to be treated with a little more kindness and a longer rope for their limited knowledge in their temporary position. Maybe this is what we should all do— admit that we’re just here to fill in. We should tell people we are just here to help out. Maybe this disclaimer should be thrown down when someone asks a technical question that could be answered with extensive knowledge on the topic, but prefaced it with “I’m just filling in, but…”. Perhaps people would be kinder to one another.

Somewhat satisfied with the egg response and the discovery that the oatmeal was gluten-free, I took a seat at the bar. 

Even the Wi-Fi sucks here. Clearly this is a city for play — not for work. With the casinos, they know what they are doing with their cybersecurity / IT stuff. They truly don’t encourage visitors to get a whole lot done except to eat drink and gamble until their new football stadium opens later this year, where the new sport will be “How to get to Death Star Stadium” (there are 15,000 parking spots and the stadium holds 75k people, what were the odds?).

Vegas Sunset
At least the surroundings of Vegas are beautiful

At least the surroundings are beautiful. The mountains are gorgeous, especially during sunset. I’m looking forward to leaving. But the best part is the people. No one is from here. Like the man seated next to me. He was just passing through. He tells me that this is his first Monday of retirement. He was driving from his former home in San Diego to his new home in the mountains of Utah where he is going to enter a second career as a ski instructor. He’s 72, he has grandkids that live in Sacramento, and he’s been divorced for 20 years — never remarried. He shared all sorts of random details of his life story with me and towards the end of our conversation, he disclosed something amazing that will have me laughing for decades.

This man asked me if I would ever marry again. I smiled and said yes, that I had met the love of my life. He then said, “Well let me tell you something, 10 years ago, I sought help for depression and was prescribed a medication. The downside of going on this antidepressant was that I could not drink any alcohol and so I quit drinking cold turkey that day.”

He claims that he was not an alcoholic before then, but he would drink socially and in business situations because he was in charge of a large auto parts distributorship in Southern California and alcohol was part of the job.

Then he added, “One of the side effects of the medication was that I may lose desire and drive.” He gave me a knowing, “you know what I am talking about” type of look, then added, with what is the best punch line I’ve heard to date:

“Best thing that has ever happened to me!” 

So apparently in his early 60s he basically became a Eunuch. He seemed quite happy about it. I might have spritzed out my tea.

I said, “Hey I’m just here to fill-in.”


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